Index ← 3883 CFJ 3884 3885 → text
===============================  CFJ 3884  ===============================

      The Lunar Laser Ranging experiment is a forum.


Caller:                        G.
Barred:                        Falsifian

Judge:                         Aris
Judgement:                     FALSE



Called by G.:                                     06 Sep 2020 19:18:00
Assigned to Shelvacu:                             13 Sep 2020 19:12:54
Shelvacu recused:                                 27 Sep 2020 16:19:17
Assigned to Aris:                                 27 Sep 2020 18:23:41
Motion to Extend filed:                           03 Oct 2020 07:55:39
Judged FALSE by Aris:                             10 Oct 2020 20:00:54
Motion to Reconsider self-filed:                  15 Oct 2020 18:39:56
Judged FALSE by Aris:                             15 Oct 2020 18:39:56


Caller's Arguments:

On 9/6/2020 11:43 AM, Falsifian via agora-business wrote:
> Registrar's opinion:
> The Lunar Laser Ranging experiment is not a forum, so it does not have
> an instance of the Publicity switch, so the new Emergency Regulation
> didn't do anything.
> Even if the experiment can be used for communication, it would be a
> stretch to call it a "place for discussion" or a "message board"
> (Wiktionary: "forum").

Looking at the peer-reviewed literature linked to:

It looks like it would be possible, with reasonable effort, to write a
protocol giving instructions on using this medium for communications
(access to equipment is not relevant, any more than access to email
clients is part of email forum determination).  For example, Bender, P.
L.; et al. (1973). Science. 182 (4109): 229–238 gives a full description
of the method.  All that is needed is:

> - a powerful laser, typically a few watts, with substantial
> pulse energy;
> - sub-arcsecond intrinsic divergence, meaning a launch
> beam diameter exceeding 10 cm;
> - sub-arcsecond pointing and tracking capability;
> - large collection aperture for the return;
> - aggressive filtering in the temporal, spatial, and
> wavelength domains.
> Additionally, the laser pulsewidth should be <100 ps so that
> it does not compete with the reflector-induced spread in the
> overall error budget.

As such, it is an "open" forum ready for communication, even if the gear
is not set up or accessible.

Specifics aside, it would be useful to get a functional definition of a
forum, and whether (in a general sense) a powered instrument or regulation
can define one regardless of the existence of a reliable access method -
i.e. can a scam define a forum that's functionally inaccessible, or is
that blocked by the common definition?


Gratuitous Arguments by Falsifian:

After thinking about your argument, I changed my mind and agree that
it's a forum.

I was going to object that even though the Lunar Ranging Experiment
*could* be used for communication, that's not its normal use and so
nobody would ever call it a "forum" the way we call e.g. an email list a
"communication forum". But it occurs to me that requiring fora to
already be used for communication could create a bootstrapping problem
if we ever did want to use something even slightly unconventional as a
public or discussion forum, so it's probably best to interpret "forum"


Judge Aris's Arguments:

A forum is, in the Agoran context, an open medium for communication.
The mailing lists are fora, and we use them to communicate; the IRC channel is
similar. I have little basis for using this definition, other than that it is
intuitively fitting, and the definition that comes naturally to me.
I will, however, point out, that it is a nearly equivalent standard to
"place for discussion" (wiktionary) or "a place, meeting, or medium where ideas
and views on a particular issue can be exchanged" (Oxford Languages, via
Google). The one significant addition I've made from those definitions is to
add the requirement that a forum must be open. While this is not an intrinsic
part of the definition of the word forum in every context, I believe it
is suitable in this one. The idea of a forum as a public place for discussion
(in the non-technical sense) harkens back to the forum of Ancient Rome, and
Agoran fora inherit from that tradition.

What does it mean to be a medium for communication? Several standards spring
to mind. It could mean that the medium is used for communication. However,
this doesn't quite fit -- a newly created mailing list is intuitively a forum,
even before the first message is sent via it. However, the fact that something
is usable for communication in some way seems too low a standard. A spoon
can be used to communicate by tapping it, yet it is obviously not a forum.

Thus, I arrive at the following standard. For something to be a forum,
people must be actually and reasonably able to join it and communicate via it.
Directing messaging is not a forum, because at most two persons can participate
in it (assuming one person per account). Accordingly, it is not open. A spoon
is not a forum for several reasons. It would be extremely difficult for multiple
people to use a spoon to communicate with each other. In addition, no one would
have any clue how to use the spoon to communicate, and it is impossible for
people to be able to communicate via something in the absence of a protocol.

I expect this standard to be refined by future precedent. One thing I want
to say now, for the avoidance of doubt, is that something does not cease
to be a forum because it is temporarily inaccessible. I think this is
consistent with the classical idea of a forum as a public marketplace,
which might still be closed in time of emergency or for temporary maintenance.

How does the Laser Ranging experiment measure up? No one has agreed on a
protocol for communicating via it (would we use Morse code?). I'm not
sure if a sufficient number of people have access to the equipment, but even
if they did, it would likely be owned by a research organization or
government, so they would probably not be in a position to use it for
communicating. In short, there is no way the lunar laser ranging experiment
is an open medium for communication.